TIME TRAVEL ON THE LIGHT BAR TRAIN
—by Marti Alston, 2004

My eyes travel, left to right, down the thin black bar
eagerly following a pair of small emerald lights
Back and forth, like at a tennis match, seeking
images from a past which haunts me

Vignettes of a life so fully suppressed
that the searching lights must plunge
down the airless mineshaft of memory
without benefit of a canary

On the walls of this stale, unkind cave
my past has affixed itself
unmovable, heretofore unexamined
hoping forever to escape notice

But the green eyes and I will not be denied
We examine each morsel of memory, unflinchingly.
With tears in my heart, I am finally able to snatch each
piece down and hold it boldly before me

Unlike a librarian taking inventory,
Who casually catalogs the past,
I feel my history at the level of bone and muscle, and
crying out from my angry heart, I claim the memories
I remember too well the shame that sprang unbidden
from maternal criticism without compassion,
patris in absentia and marital opprobrium.
If only I could have been good enough

Viewed through the prism of illusory choice,
I was convinced I was to blame
as my husband grew larger, and I all but disappeared
He, Narcissus. I, alas, the mirror

But now I am time travelling on the light bar train
I take my abused child-self into my arms
Swaying gently, we find the rhythm of compassion,
and re-form the past without denying its truths

Miraculously, the pain-drenched legacy begins to shift,
And, wonder of wonders, my amazing brain and I
are the cause. But we are wise enough
to give the green lights some of the credit.

—by Marti Alston, 2004

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